When society devolves into chaos after the electric grid collapses, an immoral celebrity survivalist leads a group of defrauded fans to defend his remote compound from a ruthless gang of killers who are out to kill him and his family.
“With society on the brink of collapse, the morally bankrupt star of a survival reality TV show must lead a group of his fans to stay alive.”
“A morally bankrupt star of a survival reality TV show must lead a group of his fans to a compound in Idaho as society crumbles around them.”
I think both versions of the logline suffer from being a bit too vague. Both versions lack an inciting incident, which would help to give context to the plot. What exactly does “society on the brink of collapse” or “as society crumbles” mean?
A logline should use language which evokes a clear action, it should use visual language conveying a specific and generic meaning which allows anyone not familiar with the story to understand.
Also, the goal seems to be ‘survive’ which isn’t a great goal. Think of the climax of the story, what happens? What is the protagonist trying to do at that point? That’s what the goal should be.
This story reminds me of “Children of Men”(2006). In that film, the protagonist is helping a woman to survive, but what helps that film is that the protagonist’s goal is to reach a specific destination. (A film I recommend.)
A breakdown of the logline’s elements:
Inciting incident: No clear, single event is listed.
Protagoinst: “the morally bankrupt star of a survival reality TV show” —> I suggest trying to cut some words from this description.
Goal: Survive —-> This is a passive goal. The protagonist should be actively trying to achieve a specific goal.
Antagonist: No antagonist described.
I suggest considering the above elements for a revision.
“An immoral star of a survival TV show must lead a group of fans to the safety of his private compound after the sudden collapse of society.” (28 words)
A breakdown of this new version:
Inciting incident: “after the sudden collapse of society.” —> This doesn’t describe a single, clear, visual event. A society doesn’t just collapse for no reason. And there needs to be a clear event which affects the protagonist and forces him — and only him — to pursue his objective goal.
Protagonist: “An immoral star of a survival TV show” —> Okay.
Goal: “must lead a group of fans to the safety of his private compound” —> Good. A clear, objective goal, because you added a specific destination.
Antagonist: Doesn’t seem to be a specific human character. Or if there is, it doesn’t seem necessary to include in the logline.
Here’s an example(me making it up, but using elements from your logline): After his studio is ransacked, an immoral star of a survival TV show must lead a group of fans through the aftermath of a societal collapse to his secure private compound. (31 words)
I made up the inciting incident(“After his studio is ransacked”) but otherwise tried to keep it pretty close to your version. I think it would help to be more descriptive with the collapse of society(such as: an invasion or rebellion? Natural disaster?) .
From the original logline, I got the sense this was a siege movie – a la Assault on Precinct 13 – where the survivalist and his cronies need to defend their compound? But it sounds from the comments and suggestions that it’s been pushed more toward a road movie – get to the compound, be safe?
FWIW, I really dig this idea (how does Bear Grylls fare in the Mad Max universe), but I think the original feeling — defend his private compound with the help of fans that have come to see him as their savour — works better for me. I’m more likely to watch that than another ‘traipse across the post apocalyptic landscape for the safe place’ narrative.
RE: character growth. An easy way to imply it is through the character’s flaw. It’s a single (or very few) word that tells us what the inner arc is going to be. In this case, you’ve described him as immoral – which tells me the arc you see the character going on is one where he learns morality, and the need to life a moral life. Which I think works.
I imagine that if you’ve got a world where a survivalist who was rich and has his own secluded compound, where his fans have flocked to live by his example, and he’s treated like a king or the messiah — then the easiest thing to do with his character is make it that he’s actually NOT as brilliant a survivalist as he made out to be. That he’s a fraud — his amazing skills were all scripted. And during the attack (and perhaps abandonment) of his compound from outside forces, and the fact that he has to protect all of the people living there, the reality will come out. This guy is a huckster. But eventually, he’ll have to use what he DOES know to protect the people he cares about. It’s got a whiff of Three Amigos/Bugs Life/Galaxy Quest about it. (All great movies).
I haven’t commented on loglines in a while, because often it’s draining saying the same things about what’s wrong with loglines over and over. But I have to say, polished logline or not, this is a great concept and I’d like to see it. It’s familiar enough that I can understand and envision what it is, but fresh enough to be something new. Good luck with it!
“After the collapse of civilisation, a charlatan ex-TV-survivalist and his acolyte fans defend their mansion fortress from a band of bloodthirsty bandits.”
Thanks again for the many helpful suggestions. This is the logline I came up with that is more concise while still hitting many of the points made.
“An immoral star of a survival TV show must lead a group of fans to the safety of his private compound after the sudden collapse of society . ”
I considered Dkpough1’s recommendation regarding the goal, but I don’t want to confuse the goal of the group (survival) which is primal with the arc that the protagonist will go through. Am I correct on this point? Does a character’s arc belong in the logline? I’ve read a number of logline’s for successful movies and I haven’t seen many that reference the arc.
Thanks. I had played around with the road option, but it felt too much like the Walking Dead…only without the zombies.
Just finished the first draft and it’s very close to what you’ve described. Protagonist hunkers down at his private compound with his family, but he has a problem. He is a reality tv show star with almost no understanding of survival stuff. He’s been selling non-existent “apocalypse cabins” on his compound to his adoring fans which is why they are there…they’ve come to collect. To make matters worse, for years he’s been feeding the ATF names of his fans who have illegal weapons (some of which he sold them) and now one of those people is now out for revenge.
“An immoral celebrity survivalist must convince a group of his defrauded fans to defend his remote compound from a ruthless gang of killers after the electric grid collapses and society devolves into chaos.” (33 words)
“When society devolves into chaos after the electric grid collapses, an immoral celebrity survivalist leads a group of defrauded fans to defend his remote compound from a ruthless gang of killers who are out to kill him and his family.” (40 words)
I think the goal and inciting incident lack a causal relationship. It seems like there’s a step missing, between the event described and the cause of forming the goal. You could easily change the goal to many different things. Change “defend his remote compound from a ruthless gang of killers who are out to kill him and his family.” to “reach destination.” It still works. That’s not how an inciting incident should work.
If you take a look at this: https://www.keepwriting.com/tsc/magnificent7plotpoints.htm
It defines two terms: ‘Catalyst’ and ‘Big Event’. The ‘Catalyst’ is similar to what we refer to as the inciting incident, but it’s not the event which forces the protagonist into the main conflict. If you examine these plot points, the event which we refer to as inciting incident should be what the ‘Big Event’ is.
In fact, I think this link: https://thewritepractice.com/inciting-incident/ describes it better.
Looking at your attempt,
Inciting incident: “When society devolves into chaos after the electric grid collapses”
Climax: Showdown between gang and protagonist. —-> Huh? How is this an inevitable outcome from the inciting incident? So, what you’ve described above is the ‘Catalyst’.
To fix this, you must find a way to work in the background of the society’s situation. Does the gang cause the electric grid to collapse? Also, the goal described in the logline should define an ending. “defend his compound” could go on until he dies. Defend it until what?
After the gang that collapsed the electric grid raids his home, an immoral celebrity survivalist must lead a group of fans to defend his remote compound and defeat the attackers. (30 words).